How Filipinos regained their independence and made Spam their own

The American Army introduced Spam canned meat around the world, including to the Philippines where it's an important part of the food canon.


By Pilar Mitchell, SBS (AU)

2 Jun 2021


Will Mahusay's voice brightens at the mention of Spam. "I love Spam," the owner of Sydney Cebu Lechon gleefully declares.


"It's a guilty pleasure. I have it once a week, and my partner frowns on me because it's not very healthy. But it brings back so many good memories."


Spam, a canned, spiced ham, is an unlikely member of the Filipino culinary canon. It was developed in 1937 by Hormel Foods Corporation, an American company, and fed widely to American GIs around the world during World War II.


These accidental arbiters of taste unwittingly delivered Spam across Europe, Asia and Hawaii. Of Southeast Asian countries, Spam is most popular in the Philippines, where it's been fused with traditional dishes. For example, silog, a breakfast of garlic fried rice, fried egg and meat can become "spamsilog".


Anna Manlulo of the Filipino Food Movement Australia explains, "It started when American bases were established in the Philippines, and they would set up a retail store called a post exchange or PX...